Columbus pushes to help displaced Colonial Village residents

See an earlier report on Colonial Village in the player above.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus is substantially increasing how much it will spend on helping displaced residents from an East Side apartment complex that was evacuated at the end of 2023.

City Council approved a grant Monday night for $3 million to provide housing support and more for former residents of Colonial Village. That will be on top of an earlier $1 million that had been allocated in stages.

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Colonial Village was declared a public nuisance in August 2021 over reports of crime, bug and rodent infestations, water damage and a lack of utilities. More issues were uncovered later, including over 800 Haitians living in units deemed unsafe, without heat and lacking other necessities.

The property is now under the control of a receiver working to rehabilitate it.

Hannah Jones from the Department of Development said the city has been working with displaced residents since October, with outreach events taking place in November. Residents were connected with partners to help get them resources such as Medicaid and SNAP.

“We hosted two resource fairs that brought providers to focus on housing, immigration issues, food security, health assessment, as well as education,” Jones said.

Efforts to find temporary housing began by identifying the most vulnerable families, those with children younger than 1 residing in properties with no heat. Residents have been set up with temporary housing through March, with them spread across the city in nine motels.

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“Our main priority is, of course, that they meet all city of code standards,” Jones said. “The second is that we tried to pair up families with small children with units that had KitchenAid kitchenettes.”

Jones said it is unlikely that Colonial Village will be ready to be reopened by April, making the long-term outlook unclear.

In December and January, more than 300 households were relocated. The ordinance approving the grant revealed that the number of residents being housed through the city’s efforts has grown to 1,300.

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